Middle Age, Diabetes and Brain Volume

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Story Updated: Mar 21, 2014

Middle-aged men and women with diabetes or high blood pressure may face a higher risk for brain cell loss and thinking difficulties by the time they're seniors, according to new research.

The finding published in Neurology is based on a neuropsychological analysis involving more than 1400 seniors between the ages of 70 and 89. A review of medical records generated a timeline of all prior diabetes and high blood pressure diagnoses. And starting in 2005, MRI brain scans were used to identify signs of brain damage that could mark a heightened risk for future dementia.

Seniors who had developed diabetes between the ages of 40 and 64 were found to have nearly 3% less brain volume and double the risk for thinking and memory difficulties than seniors who hadn't.

Seniors who had developed high blood pressure during middle age were seen to face double the risk for brain damage than those who hadn't.

The researchers say the findings highlight the long-term toll these diseases can have on brain health.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with news from today that can lead to healthy tomorrows.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com